Tennis great Tony Roche dies at age 60

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Roger Federer is seeking his 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon but faces a tough task to achieve that feat. By Staff Writer

Wimbledon 2017 is just one day old but the tennis calendar has already delivered some gut-wrenching drama.

One of sport’s most successful men’s coaches passed away, Australia’s Tony Roche died on Tuesday at the age of 60. His death comes just two days after Swiss legend Roger Federer lost his 35th consecutive match on Centre Court when he was defeated by the world number two Marin Cilic.

On Wednesday morning, Federer tweeted: “My dear coach, Dad and husband died peacefully last night. My heart is broken.”

At the time of his death, Federer was preparing to play the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for the eighth time in his career. The 37-year-old Swiss had been coached by Roche since the early 1980s, helping him win seven Grand Slam titles and earning a place in the record books as the world’s most successful male player.

An emotional Roche told the BBC his loss was “unbelievable” and that “every day was a pleasure.”

“I have been alongside him all the time,” Roche said. “To see him in a different light is amazing. It was never a friendly relationship, but I had great respect for him as a person, as a champion and he will always be his friend.”

Roger Federer’s tears

Coaches and former opponents took to social media to pay tribute to Roche.

Reigning champion Novak Djokovic said: “Very sad to hear about the passing of my old friend and coach Tony Roche. A great one-time player/coach and an even better one-time coach/coach. My thoughts go out to his family.”

“Very sad. Shocked to learn of the passing of Tony Roche from that number 20 wish,” tweeted former coach Darren Cahill.

Australian legend Pat Cash also offered his condolences on Twitter, writing: “Such sad news to hear of the passing of my friend Tony Roche. He gave @rogerfederer great luck & great results over the years. He will be missed.”

A former world number one in the 1980s and 1990s, Roche came to tennis with the mindset that he “could not be beaten,” according to his biography, “Dangerous Thoughts.”

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